Posted by: Loren Coleman on March 13th, 2009
Cryptid Hyenas in America?
Hyena-like cryptids have been reported in the USA.
There is the 1910 case from Delphos, Kansas.
More recently there was the intriguing video footage from Mississippi:
Tim McCary of Mississippi exclusively shared the video with Cryptomundo. The creature caught with his game video cam was photographed in the fall of 2007, in southwest Mississippi. Specifically, it was taken in a place called “Anna’s Bottom,” just north of Natchez, Mississippi. This will give you a sense of how some have said that this cryptid could be a Spotted Hyena (genus Crocuta).
For comparative purposes, below is footage of a hyena running in Africa. (People often make the mistake of thinking hyenas have stubbed tails; they do not but they do hold them close to their bodies so their tails appear to be shorter than they are. Of course, other animals running could resemble hyenas, needless to say.)
South Carolina’s “Bubbles” case
Today, I must deliver to you the news that a striped hyena has been found in South Carolina. Shockingly, it was not discovered in the wild or in a zoo, but in a man’s backyard.
Of course, the widespread private ownership of exotic pets is out-of-hand, dangerous, and problematic. For cryptozoologists, out-of-place animals need to be tracked so confusion with owned animals and reported escapees can be understood with some reality. Nevertheless, sometimes the unbelievable does seem to pop into the news, regarding exotics.
A local story from South Carolina informs us that a man has been cited for keeping a striped hyena in his yard. Add to this the fact authorities state that hyenas have also been found as pets in Florida and Texas.
Striped Hyenas, naturally
The Striped Hyena (Hyaena hyaena) is normally found in Africa, the Middle East, Pakistan and western India, not South Carolina, USA.
They do not grow up to make good pets.
Here is what Wikipedia has to say about the striped hyenas’ attacks on humans:
“The striped hyena was historically feared and held responsible for the disappearance of unattended small children in the Caucasus and in Central Asia. In the district of Yerevan in the Caucasus in the 1880s, hyenas were thought to be responsible for the disappearance or injuring of 25 children and three adults who slept outdoors. Further incidents in that area of striped hyenas killing children were reported in the 1890s and 1900s, as well as in Azerbaidjan in the 1930s and 1940s.
“In British India, striped hyena attacks rarely caused much uproar, as they were not considered as dangerous as wolves, which were responsible for numerous deaths in the latter half of the 19th century. In modern India however, killings of wolves and striped hyenas are still organised by the government in areas where carnivores are suspected of child lifting, even in conservation areas.
“In 1962, nine children were thought to have been taken by hyenas in the town of Bhagalpur in the Bihar State in a six week period. In Karnataka, Bihar state, attacks on children have been reported as recently as 1974 when 19 children up to the age of four years were reported killed at night.
“On March 13th 2005, a hyena injured 70 persons in six villages of Sonsor tehsil, five of them critically.
“The Kikuyu of Kenya generally do not fear striped hyenas as they do spotted hyenas. A consensus on wild animal attacks during a five year period in the Indian state of Madhya Pradesh showed that hyenas had only attacked three people, the lowest figure when compared to deaths caused by wolves, gaur, boar, elephants, tigers, leopards and sloth bears.”
Giving an animal a cute and cuddly name like “Bubbles” does not make it any less dangerous.
You could say this is no laughing matter.
An uncritical SC retelling
Editorially, I must take objection to the ending tone of the following article. It turns into an ad for the private ownership of hyenas, which frankly I think is a remarkably unwise decision on anyone’s part.
Myrtle Beach resident Nicolas Petock said Thursday that he misses his friend.
The 26-year-old’s striped hyena named Bubbles was taken last Friday [March 6, 2009] by Myrtle Beach police.
“It’s very detrimental to our relationship with him,” said Petock, who had the nearly 1-year-old hyena for about six months. “Even as young as he is, it’s hard for him to trust people,” said Petock, who gave Bubbles his name because “as a pup, when he got nervous, he made a bubbling noise.”
Police cited Petock for owning and displaying a wild exotic animal after officers went to his home at 602 First Ave. S. last Friday and saw the hyena, police said.
A court hearing is scheduled for Petock on April 7, according to clerks at the Myrtle Beach Municipal Court.
According to Myrtle Beach’s city ordinances, it is “unlawful for any person to sell, expose to public view or contact, exhibit either gratuitously or for a fee, any wild or feral animals, or any animal of mixed domestication and feral lineage within the corporate limits of the city on public or private property,” unless otherwise stated in the ordinance.
Petock, who brought Bubbles from Texas, said before coming to South Carolina, he researched the laws regarding having a wild, exotic animal such as a hyena.
“We weren’t trying to sell him,” said Petock, who wanted the hyena because he said they are very unappreciated animals. “He is a member of the family.”
A police officer saw the hyena in a fenced enclosure in the rear of the home and contacted Petock about it, according to a police report. Police said it was housed in a fenced area large enough to allow the hyena to move in a circle around a dog house, the report stated.
Ken Alfieri, one of the curators at Alligator Adventure, said Petock’s backyard was probably the wrong location to have a hyena.
“I’m not against ownership,” Alfieri said. “It is better just to be outside of city limits where you have a lot of space. The rule with exotic animals is to have two fences, doubled-fence and closed-fence, as you are better able to control access to your animal.”
Alfieri, who said Bubbles was taken to a large enclosure 3½ hours away from Myrtle Beach, said it is the first case of anyone having a hyena that he has seen in South Carolina. He has seen cases in Florida and Texas, he said.
“The striped hyena is different than some of the hyenas we see on the Discovery Channel,” Alfieri said. “They are middle-sized hyenas that generally are reasonably nice animals. They do bond with people, and they do well in captivity. They are both loyal and bonded to their owners.
“The spotted hyena and the brown hyena can be bigger,” Alfieri said. “They [travel in] a pack, are true meat eaters and predators, while the striped hyena is mid-size, a loner, typically shy and will eat as much fruit and vegetables as it does meat.”
Petock described Bubbles, native to West Africa, as a loner.
“You have to gain the trust of a striped hyena more than you do of a spotted one,” said Petock, who also has a couple of dogs and cats. He said it is a distress to have Bubbles separated from all of them.Fri, Mar. 13, 2009 “Hearing date set for hyena owner, Bubbles” by Janelle Frost,
Sun News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina
Thanks for the heads up on this incident from Regan Lee.
Loren Coleman is one of the world’s leading cryptozoologists, some say “the” leading living cryptozoologist. Certainly, he is acknowledged as the current living American researcher and writer who has most popularized cryptozoology in the late 20th and early 21st centuries. Starting his fieldwork and investigations in 1960, after traveling and trekking extensively in pursuit of cryptozoological mysteries, Coleman began writing to share his experiences in 1969. An honorary member of Ivan T. Sanderson’s Society for the Investigation of the Unexplained in the 1970s, Coleman has been bestowed with similar honorary memberships of the North Idaho College Cryptozoology Club in 1983, and in subsequent years, that of the British Columbia Scientific Cryptozoology Club, CryptoSafari International, and other international organizations. He was also a Life Member and Benefactor of the International Society of Cryptozoology (now-defunct). Loren Coleman’s daily blog, as a member of the Cryptomundo Team, served as an ongoing avenue of communication for the ever-growing body of cryptozoo news from 2005 through 2013. He returned as an infrequent contributor beginning Halloween week of 2015. Coleman is the founder in 2003, and current director of the International Cryptozoology Museum in Portland, Maine.